LaMarcus Aldridge signed with the Spurs? The Spurs? Really?
The Spurs? Damn, man. That's just not cool. I mean, that's just unfair.
For the better part of two decades, the Spurs have been incredibly successful. They haven't done this through landing big free agents. With the exception of their one bad season in 1996-97, they haven't done it through lucky lottery bounces. They've succeeded in a variety of ways in spite of those limitations.
The Spurs have been perhaps the best team in the NBA at finding international players. Tony Parker didn't generate a ton of interest from other teams before the Spurs took him at the end of the first round in 2001. Nor did Manu Ginobili, who was available with the 57th pick in 1999. Both turned into All-Stars. While other teams have been flustered by the challenges of international scouting, the Spurs have had a lot of hits. We're not just talking about the All-Stars; they also have snagged key contributors like Tiago Splitter and Beno Udrih.
The Spurs haven't had many high draft picks, yet they've still managed to find productive players in the draft. Kawhi Leonard, the NBA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year and the 2014 Finals MVP, was a No. 15 pick, behind Jan Vesely, Bismack Biyombo, and Jimmer Fredette. Other teams were drafting players who didn't belong in the league. The Spurs found a guy worth a maximum contract.
The Spurs have been excellent at finding players off the scrap heap who were completely unwanted by other NBA teams. In 2010, Danny Green got cut by the Cavaliers. He turned out to be a spectacular shooter and defender who just signed a $45 million deal that's actually a bargain. They turned Gary Neal, an undrafted guy from tiny Towson who spent several years overseas with no NBA offers, into an NBA player.
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More LaMarcus Aldridge
The Spurs have managed to hold onto Tim Duncan. NBA superstars generally move. They have so much power in comparison to stars in other sports and the amount of money each team can offer is roughly the same, so they tend to flutter around looking for the best situation. Meanwhile, the Spurs have managed to hold onto Duncan, perhaps the best power forward of all time. Most of the time, he hasn't even been rumored to leave: the closest he came to departing was in 2000, when he nearly signed with the Magic. For the past 15 years, it's been pretty clear he's in San Antonio or nowhere.
The Spurs have one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, Gregg Popovich, who has proved capable of designing both impregnable defenses and unstoppable offenses. (Sometimes, both in the same year.) Pop's ability to succeed year after year, often with different styles of play and different types of players, is simply unparalleled in modern coaching.
And now, in addition to all this other stuff, the Spurs just landed the best free agent on the market. They convinced an All-Star big man to leave his playoff team and come to San Antonio.
THAT'S NOT FAIR! IT'S JUST NOT FAIR!
Of course, it's actually extremely fair. The NBA's salary cap makes it so that all teams can only offer roughly the same amount of money. But with all things equal monetarily, there's traditionally been an advantage towards big glitzy market teams, which have historically landed the cream of various free agency crops.
This time around, it didn't go that way. Aldridge swatted away the Lakers and didn't even meet with the Knicks. He turned them down for the Spurs because the Spurs are better.
The Spurs have been able to succeed in spite of their inability to land free agents because of their spectacular skill at finding and developing talent. And now, they're landing big-name free agents, too?
Turn the game off. Throw the console away. The Spurs have got this.
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